Slowly the victorious warrior scanned the battlefield around him, and as he did so, his eyes alighted upon Malagor and myself. He started slowly toward us. I did nothing but stand and stare at the alien knight. He moved slowly at first, but as he got nearer, he seemed more and more menacing, and when he was only several yards away, he began to raise his wondrous sword.
“Stop!” called Malagor, backing up his command by brandishing his light rifle. The blue-skinned man stopped and stared at us and particularly at me for a moment.
“You carry a dead sword,” he said to me.
“I carry this sword that I found. It is not as marvelous as your own….”
“Just where did you find this sword?”
“It was in a cave, along with these light rifles,” I replied.
“You took these weapons from the dead!”
“There was no body,” I said, “only the weapons and some food items.”
“You lie!” He took another step forward.
“He tells the truth,” said Malagor. “Do not take another step, or I shall have to kill you.”
The Amatharian looked carefully at my friend as if for the first time. “You are a Malagor?”
“My clan, long ago, dealt with the Malagor. They were a people of honor.”
Malagor nodded his head slightly in acknowledgment of the compliment, but didn’t lower his weapon.
“You affirm that this pale one did not desecrate the bodies of my people?”
“I swear it.”
The Amatharian looked back at me, the fury of battle now fading from his eyes. He straightened his back, and then carefully sheathed his sword, which now appeared to be nothing more than a metal blade of the non-glowing variety. This fellow was a magnificent specimen. He was almost a head taller than I, at least six foot seven. He was muscular and handsome, and wore the typical Amatharian fighting clothing, the black body suit and white tabard. His own tabard was surrounded by gold braid and bore his insignia, a flaming sun with outstretched wings.
“May I see your weapon?” he asked.
I handed him the sword, hilt first. He carefully examined the blade and its edge. Then with something akin to reverence, he carefully removed the jeweled hilt and opened a here-to-fore hidden compartment in the base. He sighed. Then he carefully replaced the hilt, and handed the weapon back to me.
“I offer you my apology,” he said. “A sword this fine was designed for a remiant, and yet this sword has never lived.”
“I accept your apology,” I replied.
I could feel Malagor breathe a sigh of relief. It was obvious that he didn’t want to have to kill a brave man, especially over a misunderstanding. I certainly didn’t want to force him to. The knight bowed his head.
“I am Homianne Kurar Ka Remiant Norar Remontar of the Sun Clan,” he said. I later learned that he had given me his name as Norar Remontar, his rank as Remiant or knight, and his social status or nobility as Homianne Kurar Ka, which literally means child of the overlord, and implies that one is a prince or princess. In Amatharian society the head of each clan is called Kurar Ka or Overlord and his direct heirs are his Homianne. Just below them in rank are the Kurar or lords, and below them the Kur or lesser nobles.
Malagor replied with his own name, which as I have previously explained, defies all attempts at transcription. It is a kind of a growl and a cough and he seemed to throw in something else, perhaps a title, though I didn’t press as to what it might have been. I must confess that at that moment I felt somewhat inadequate in the name department, as I had neither a particularly long or eloquent name nor an impressive title.
“Alexander Ashton” I said.
The Zoasian ship was no longer even a dot in the sky. Malagor invited Norar Remontar to our camp to rest and recover, but he demurred saying that his first duty was to his fallen comrades. I didn’t see what he could possibly do for them, as it was only too obvious that he was the only survivor, the Zoasians were quite thorough in their murderous methods, shooting even those enemies that were already down, and it would have been insane for an individual to contemplate burying all of the dead soldiers. The Amatharian explained to me that he was required by custom, to pay his respects to the dead and that he had an additional obligation to confirm the status of those members of his own family among the warriors. It seems that the military units as well as commercial concerns were organized around the concept of the family clan.
* * * * * * * * * *
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